DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
NEWSLETTER: WINTER 2015
ISSUE: WINTER 2015
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Message from the Head ...... 1
2014 Student Awards.3
Job Market Success .............. 5
Faculty Honors ..................... 5
Spotlight on PhD Student Research .............................. 6
March 6, 2015 - Distinguished Lecture: John A. List, University of Chicago
March 6, 2015 - Graduate Program Open House
Already one of the strongest research departments in the country, the Department has continued in its quest to move further up the rankings. In this regard, we welcomed four new assistant professors to the department last year; they were highlighted in the previous Newsletter. This group has already made a huge impact in the department and we anticipate more of the same in the future. We are also in the enviable position of being able to hire three new faculty members at the associate level this year. As of the writing of this Newsletter, the department is hard at work in this regard, as we seek to fill positions in the following fields: macroeconomics, environmental economics, and applied microeconomics. 2014 also saw some departures from the department. We were sorry to see Jared Carbone leave us for a position at the Colorado School of Mines. Ron Kneebone has been seconded on a full time basis to the School of Public Policy, but we still see him kicking around the halls on the fourth floor from time to time. Also, long serving department member Chris Bruce retired from the Department on January 1 of this year. Chris joined the department way back in 1973 (when Tony Orlando and Dawn were at the top of the hit parade) and we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement. We were also saddened to hear of the death of Frank Anton. Frank was one of the original members of the Department of Economics at the University of Calgary, and served as its first department head. undergraduate level. At the undergraduate level we have 851 economics
Message from the Head By Ken J. McKenzie
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the most recent Newsletter for the Department of Economics. This is my second time in the big office, having previously done the job for three years from 2007-2010, and I can tell you that in the intervening four year period things have changed a lot.
ISSUE: WINTER 2015
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY | DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS PAGE 2 of 10
We have continued to grow our program at both the graduate and undergraduate level. At the undergraduate level we have 851 economics majors 27 of which are honours students). We have 52 Ph.D. students and 33 M.A. students enrolled in our graduate program, which is emerging as one of the larger programs in the country. Our graduate students continue to be well placed in the job market, as is highlighted later in the Newsletter. Finally, I would like to thank my predecessor, Dan Gordon, for all of the work he did in his three year stint as department head. The department was in very good shape when he finished his term. I can only hope not to make too big a mess of things during my time in the job.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
Our Department is a vibrant, research focused environment for both faculty and students.
Our Faculty have published in the very top journals in the field, including the American
Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Review of Economic Studies.
Many have served in elected offices in the Canadian Economics Association and other
professional societies within the discipline and as policy advisors to government. Many
faculty members have served on prominent editorial boards, including those for the
American Economic Review, the Canadian Journal of Economics, and Canadian Public
We have a large Undergraduate Program with over 7000 undergraduates enrolled in
courses offered by the department, making economics one of the most popular majors at the
University of Calgary. Undergraduates also frequently participate in research projects
supervised by the faculty in the department.
Our Graduate Program offers both Thesis-Based and Course-Based MA Degrees and a
PhD degree. In a typical year, we enroll approximately 20 students to our MA programs and
10 students to the PhD program. Our programs draw an extremely diverse group of students
from across Canada and around the world.
Our curriculum is consistent with the level of rigor and the design of leading economics
graduate programs in North America. However, our smaller program size affords our
students more attention from faculty and more opportunities to pursue their particular
Our PhD program graduates have had high success rates in terms of obtaining tenure-
track academic appointments - including, among others, the University of Alberta, Queen's
University, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Georgia Tech. Many graduates of our
MA Program have gone on to PhD study in the world's leading Economics Departments in
Canada and the United States. They have also gone on to find prominent positions in
government, banking, and industry.
ISSUE: WINTER 2015
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY | DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS PAGE 3 of 10
2014 James D. Gaisford Research Prize By Akio Yamazaki
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the research activity committee members for selecting my paper for the James D. Gaisford research award. I am truly humbled and honored to have been chosen for this award knowing that there were many qualified papers. I cannot begin to describe how much I appreciate support from faculty members, peers, and my wife, especially my advisors, Jared C. Carbone and M. Scott Taylor. The idea for this paper was stimulated by many conversations I had with Jared Carbone while I was his research assistant in my 2nd year. During the fall term, I had an opportunity to compose a research proposal for one of my field courses. Even though the research idea was not formulated entirely at that time, this opportunity
pushed me to think about how to turn this idea into a paper. By the summer, I had enough results to present my paper at the departmental seminar and apply for conferences. Presenting my paper in front of different audience was challenging, but it enabled me to improve the quality of my paper. I strongly believe that taking advantage of our very collegial environment in the department made this success possible in my research career. I am currently working on the extension of my 2nd year paper, investigating the effect of British Columbias carbon tax on business performances. I hope to continue researching various environmental policies to better inform the public about the consequences and help designing the future environmental policies.
2014 Graduate Student Teaching Award By Yutaro Sakai
It is such an honor to receive this award. I was very lucky to have supportive, friendly, and engaged students and to have the generous support of Marian Miles, the instructor of the course. If there was anything that made me a good instructor, it was my attempt to get to know my students.
Before the semester began, I met with Ms. Miles to discuss the objective of the course and to learn about the student profile. In the first class, I gave students an anonymous mini test to get an idea of how much they remember basic statistic concepts and math. I also spent some time reviewing basic material as it turned out students had forgotten almost everything. I also decided to give review questions in every class to emphasize important points from the previous classes, which many students seemed to appreciate.
I think when instructors make an effort to understand their students needs, students appreciate the effort and the classroom becomes a very productive space for both students and instructors.
ISSUE: WINTER 2015
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY | DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS PAGE 4 of 10
Vanier Scholarship: A Game Changer By Gustavo Caballero
Almost two years ago I received some very exciting news: I had been chosen to be
one of the Vanier Scholars by the SSHRC. I was ecstatic and honored. This meant
not only great financial support, but also recognition of my research agenda on
understanding the reasons for persistent extreme poverty.
I come from Colombia, and until three years ago I had spent most of my life there.
My country is a developing country which has seen significant reductions in the
incidence of extreme poverty. However, we still have more than 10% of our
citizens living in very difficult conditions. As advances in the fight against extreme
poverty become harder and Colombia's level of economic development approaches
that of the developed world, the question remains as to whether there is a cap on the possible reduction of
extreme poverty. In Canada and US, more than 10% of the citizens are extremely poor to certain degree;
though slightly different from the extreme poverty of the developing world, many still live with hunger,
without a home and lacking basic capabilities.
With the hope that my country continues its process of becoming a developed country, I am now narrowly
focused in understanding the determinants of redistribution in developed countries in order to embrace the
possibility of fully overcoming the problem of extreme poverty.
The Vanier Scholarship has been a game changer for me. It ha